Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Lord Be with Each and Every One of You

I know how to respond to "The Lord be with you."  The new Mass was rough on some of us, and I'll admit to still stumbling every now and then over the Gloria or Creed; but really it wasn't that difficult to learn.  A dozen newly translated responses for a basic low Mass.  Not like Vatican II or something radical.  Not like priest holes or something scary.

But the recent unsettlement makes it doubly confusing when priests decide to do their own thing, even in the spaces allotted for them to do so—and especially in the spaces that aren't.  So when Fr. Jesuit at St. [redacted] came out with his "each and every one of you"—I paused.  I wasn't really thinking—actually, I was praying (for once) instead of being distracted (at least, I wasn't distracted UNTIL he went off); but if the complex emotions that followed from his injunction had been translated into thought they would have gone something like this:

"'And with each and every one of you'?  What's the proper reply to that?  'And with each and every part of your spirit'?  Far too obvious.  'And with every fiber of your heavenly being'?  Far out.  'And with all the parts of your soul'?  Too easy.  Maybe you name the parts?  Like vegetative, animal, human ... hm.  Does the supernatural thing that happens to the soul count as an additional part, or is it just kind of an upgrade?  Because it IS a whole new nature, but on the other hand ..."

The only thing I was a hundred percent sure of was that the proper reply, whatever it was, didn't begin "And Also."  Bad Also; bad Also.

How Catholics have made Also feel.
I wanted one with a scolding finger, but it was taking to long to find.

Unfortunately for my concentration, Fr. Jesuit continued to adopt this style of ... prayer?  I can call it prayer, yes?  Praise and worship is prayer, no?  Not my style of prayer, and not prayer that I'd particularly care for during Mass; but there it is.  Fr. Jesuit continued this style of prayer throughout the Mass.

What was strange about it was his orthodoxy.  No, really, I have no idea (well, a very slight idea—we'll come to that) what his theology is actually like; but it wasn't as if he was inserting Sky Fathers and Earth Mothers everywhere.  I don't recall even a single "sisters and brothers."  In fact, his favorite phrase of insertion seemed to be "Heavenly Father."  Was he a secret traddie who wanted to restore the balance of the force?  One doesn't know; one wonders, but one doesn't know.

One wonders also about why it would be important for Christ to "pass" the species to his disciples instead of giving it to them.  There probably is some lurking theological instability in that change, if for no other reason because of the place of prominence that passage has.  But pointless is not the same as heterodox.

You're probably wondering with all this about the homily.  Oh, I was wondering too.  But it was fine.  It was, in fact, quite good.  Fr. Jesuit was not only rhetorically adept but intellectually and spiritually stimulating.  He talked a lot about faith and a personal relationship with Christ, but not in a touchy-feely way.  More in the way you'd expect St. Teresa to talk about it: no nonsense.  (It may have helped that Fr. Jesuit bears a fleeting resemblance to the Navy chaplain my family knows.  Maybe.)

So Fr. Jesuit is probably not (or at least, based on the Mass he said on the feast of St. Dominic) an actual heretic.  (Maybe we have St. Dominic to thank for that ...?) His opinions are, to the best of my knowledge, orthodox.  It's just that, astonishingly, a failure to be orthoprax can be pretty nearly as irritating as failures to be orthodox.

I therefore present myself as evidentiary exhibit number one in support of the oft-made claim that it's just not a good idea to monkey with the Mass.  It doesn't matter how, er, non-ideologically offensive your insertions are.  The people of God (well, anyway, this people of God) are not of them fond.

Admittedly, I did find it somehow easier to pray during this Mass than some others I've recently attended.  That probably might have something to do with the native ability of human beings to rise to challenges (see the last long post).  More likely, it has something to do with the native human perversity that prefers dealing with other people's distractions rather than one's own.  Be that as it may, Fr. Jesuit's Mass was a case of that common phenomenon in which Saturday prays better under duress.  It was a most fruitful afternoon.  In fact, it really was almost like a gift, Fr. Jesuit's Mass was ...

Enough of this gooey stuff.

Which isn't quite the ideal way to leave Mass, but there are worse alternatives.

N.B. No actual Jesuits were harmed in the writing of this piece.  The only three Jesuits I've ever met (one college chaplain, one graduate school professor, and (very briefly) the eminent and exceedingly kind Fr. Schall) have all been remarkably orthoprax ... I think.  Come to consider it, the chaplain is the only one I've ever seen saying Mass.  Hm ...


  1. Very nice. Well chosen pictures too.

    1. Haha! That was half the fun on this one.

      Did you see the Superman movie? 'Cause that'll be next week, if I have time to get to it.

    2. are you saying ... Fr. Schall is Superman?!?

    3. That sounds like a setup for a Nietzsche joke ...